Availo is offline. BLKBK is now live.

In 2015 we set out to build a platform that would make freelancing easier for designers/art directors/illustrators of all digital disciplines and levels. A platform built by freelancers for freelancers.

The business model relied on investment from VC’s and Angel Investors, this meant we wouldn’t generate a profit for a few years while we grew the platform and built a strong team.

Everything went to plan, we closed an initial pre-seed round with angel investors alongside Seedcamp, we built and launched our Beta to 100 top tier companies such as Google, UsTwo, IDEO and Facebook and help place plenty of amazing freelancers from our community of 300+ creatives and designers.

However, after 6 months getting investors lined up and ready to invest £250k into Availo, our lead investor pulled out at the last minute. This ended any hopes of closing the round. At this time the team hadn’t been paid for 3 months, there were no other investment options in the pipeline, and after a few incredibly stressful weeks the team agreed it was time to close down Availo with our investors consent.

This decision was incredibly hard to make as we had poured our hearts and efforts into the project, we love(d) working with our community and were so hopeful of building something that could genuinely help take away the stress of freelancing.

So in essence, we couldn’t grow Availo into a tech company, but we still have an awesome community of 100’s of designers looking for work and plenty of clients wanting to hire them.

That is why we’re launching BLKBK today.

BLKBK is an invite only Slack community of freelance designers to which clients can instantly submit work requests.

It works like this:

  1. Client goes to www.blkbk.co
  2. They fill out a quick form detailing the work, contract length and budget
  3. This is pushed to specific channel within the slack group
  4. Freelancers reach out to clients that seem interesting
  5. Freelancers invoice the clients directly

And as we’ll be running BLKBK in our spare time, it will be totally free for both clients and freelancers to use. If you’re already an Availo freelancer, check your inbox as you’ve already been invited, or simply sign in with your old Availo slack details here — blkbkhq.slack.com — try a password reset if a little lost.

It’s frustrating we never managed to build the software we had envisioned from the start, but we’re incredibly proud of what we achieved as a team and we hope we can continue to help freelancers work with great clients in London via BLKBK. We’ll be trialling it for a few months to see if it has any legs, so do head to www.blkbk.co and apply as a freelancer, or submit your work request now!

But what went wrong at Availo?

Over the last 18 months there were certainly a fair few “learning experiences” (read, mistakes) in addition to not closing funding, and I think it’s always good to be open about these so people can avoid making the same mistakes as we did. So if you’re interested take a read about the wins and mistakes at Availo here.